I’m sat on the floor off a room. A stone floor, a stone room, with metal bars acting as the doors and windows. For once in months my hands, ankles and neck are not chained up and encircled by rings. When the white men had unfastened them and let them clatter to the floor my skin had been rubbed away so much that there was just congealed blood underneath. I didn’t think it was ever going to heal, even with their saltwater treatments. It feels odd not to be rocking from side to side, this is my first night on dry land in what seems like a lifetime and a half.
We been aroused from our state of half consciousness on the tightly packed ledges of the canoe house early this morning by bellowing voices and triumphant sounding laughs. None coming from any of my fellow people. They pulled us, line by line, up the steps onto the deck and then along a thick wooden plank to the dock. At this point we were still chained together in a long line, helplessly trapped as the pale-faces walked up and down appraising our conditions. My legs and arms were as thin as the bones within. To think I’d feared the mere exercise wouldn’t be enough to keep us fit. Any more that we’d had and we would have come out piles of bones with no fat or muscle whatsoever. After we were all unloaded, as roughly as boxes of cheap cargo, they led us along a bricked alleyway to a courtyard surrounded by grim looking buildings. One by one they disconnected us from the chains and pulled us, struggling pathetically, into the first of the buildings. I waited patiently, staring at the floor as more and more people were taken. Some were screaming and thrashing about as they were dragged in the grips of the Whites. I couldn’t even find the energy inside me to crane my neck and try and scan the line of prisoners for someone I knew, or had even vaguely encountered.
So, we hadn’t been brought here to die or we would all be laying at the bottom of the vast, empty ocean we’d crossed by now. The only other reason I could come up with was that the White’s wanted us as possessions – something to own and control. Perhaps we would be doing the jobs around their houses for them, perhaps we would be locked up in cells for the rest of our lives. I felt someone fumble with the chains around me but I didn’t respond at all, I was only a ghost of my former self. It was as if my soul had evaporated in the duration of the journey to this land.
“Lovely wench here boys!” the man who was unclasping me shouted to the others behind him. I didn’t understand a thing and just continued to stare at the floor, trying to pretend that I was back home in the meadows. The pale-faces began to laugh, it sounded as if they were laughing in anticipation of something – something I didn’t really want to find out about.
“Get her inside!” another man yelled gleefully as the White began to lead my forward towards some wooden double doors ahead. I couldn’t stop several tears from escaping my stinging eyes.
“Kila! Kila, no! No you can’t hurt her!”
I stopped walking, frozen on the spot at the sound of his voice. Mikkah’s voice. In that moment some of my hope burst back into my heart, his voice was a spark starting a fire of rebellion inside me. There was no reason why I should let these people rule my life. There was no way that I had done anything to deserve being ripped away from my home lands by force and made to live in conditions that made me and even some of the canoe house’s crew vomit. I needed to get back to the plains where I belonged with the wild animals, straw huts and spears to hunt. That was who I am, and who I needed to still be. And these monsters couldn’t stop me!”
“Mikkah” I screeched, landing kicks in the stomachs of the men behind me. Prisoners chained up began to follow my example, and within seconds the whole courtyard had been transformed into a state of riot. I grinned viciously.
“Kila, Kila no!” Mikkah yelled. I thought it only to be an objection to the white men taking me inside. However, as his voice echoed from the whitewashed walls, a whip came down on my shoulder. White men clutched my limbs and dragged me along the floor into the building where they’d originally wanted to get me before my outburst of violence. His words had been a warning. If I wasn’t so blinded by my own stupid hope and desire to kill the pale-faces I would have realised that. If I hadn’t been so stupid, there would not be screams and grunts of pain coming from behind the doors that had been slammed in front of me.
“Stupid wench!” the man holding me growled as he stripped away my clothes, and my dignity. As if they had the system working like a machine, a bucket of saltwater was chucked over me, a man headed forward with a brush to scrub away the dirt on my skin, a comb was yanked through my hair and hot, thick tar was pressed over my cuts. All through this I screamed and screamed in pain. They didn’t listen. I didn’t understand how they could be so unbelievably heartless.
“Bring her over here!”
At that moment I didn’t really understand what was happening to me as it was all so fast. I staggered over to where they pulled me and was held still by two pale-faces. Then a burning hot item touched against the skin of my back. It was like my skin and flesh had been set on fire, the pain was immense. No amount of shaking and shrieking would make them stop, but after a couple of seconds it was pulled away leaving only a scorching feeling behind. Something smooth was slipped over my head and pulled down over my body. An item of clothing I had never come across before. And then I was bundled forward and shoved into this communal cell where the rest were waiting.
My entire body feels as if it’s going to crumble down into dust at any second. I can’t cope anymore, and I know that all tomorrow is going to bring is hell. The feeling is unbearable to manage.
YOU ARE READING
This is a series of short diary entries from the perspective of a teenage girl named Kila living in Africa in the 1700's. Based on true facts and what really happened to the people taken by ruthless Slave Traders to be sold to plantations.